One minute we were sitting around a table having a few laughs, the next minute – literally – we were blazing through downtown Norwich blaring sirens en route to a fire at Chenango Memorial Hospital.
That was how quickly it went for the City of Norwich firefighters from deciding what to order for lunch to deciding, in a matter of seconds, how to take on a fire that, given the location, could have had disaster and tragedy written all over it. Making last-minute adjustments to his gear as we sped toward the high-rising smoke column above North Broad Street, firefighter Tracy Chawgo looked over at me (who looked like a deer in headlights, from what I’m told) and said, “This could be big.”
That was at 12:52 p.m.
The big excitement around the firehouse before that: I was fifteen minutes late for my shift on the EMS squad and missed two calls. That was all anyone could talk about the first hour I was there.
“You missed all the good stuff,” firefighter Jim Wallen would scold.